From [HERE] and [HERE] In early 1993, Lafonso Rollins, a 17-year-old special education student in the ninth grade, was arrested and charged with a series of robberies and rapes of four elderly women who lived in the same public housing complex in a Chicago neighborhood. He had been pointed out to police after a composite sketch was released.
The main evidence against Rollins at trial was his signature on a written confession that detailed the attacks, which included two sexual assaults. Serological testing was also conducted on semen from the crime, and the results should have excluded Rollins as a suspect, but prosecutors did not report the exclusion to defense attorneys. The lab analyst request DNA testing before trial, but forensic supervisors refused to grant testing. Rollins was convicted as an adult, and sentenced to 75 years in prison for the rape of a 78-year-old woman.
Rollins filed for DNA testing and the public defenders were assigned as counsel. In June 2004, the test results excluded Rollins and proved that his confession was false. Further testing was performed on the evidence from the other sexual assault (Rollins was charged with, but not convicted of, this crime). The results again exculpated Rollins and revealed that the same perpetrator had assaulted both victims. Based on these results, the public defenders and prosecutor’s office filed to vacate the conviction.
Rollins was exonerated and walked out of prison without his family to greet him. His mother had been stabbed months before his arrest. While he was in prison, his older sister was shot and killed and both of his grandparents died.
He received $145,837 through the Illinois Court of Claims and pursued a federal civil claim against those who extracted the false confession. In January 2006, the City of Chicago settled Rollins’s claim for $9 million after documents were discovered that revealed improper handling of cases by the Chicago Police Crime Laboratory. [MORE]